Part 2: Keys for Effective Christian Leadership
Why do we struggle to forgive?
In Part 2 of the series, we will look at why we struggle with forgiveness and reconciliation even though we know that God desires us to do so. When we struggle to forgive, we justify our rights not to forgive and in the process apply God’s word inappropriately. Many of us declare that “The Bible says, ‘Be ye angry’ but forget the rest of the Scripture verse which says ” and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26, KJV). Many of us stay angry and sin for days, weeks, months, and even years. A lot of people will carry the sin of unforgiveness to their graves. God is as displeased with unforgiveness as he is with sexual sins, deception, lying, and envy. We must remember that Jesus paid at Calvary for any sin either of us could commit.
Forgiveness needs us to identify our real enemies
Too often we do not see the real enemy when there is offence and conflict; we regard other people as our enemy. All people deserve love not animosity. If we learn who our enemies really are, we can effectively fight the battles in our marriages and in other institutions where the Lord places us.
Our real enemies are the powers of darkness and our own flesh. These enemies often go unnoticed in the heat of the battle. Our flesh seeks to please itself and not God. The apostle Paul warns us about our flesh, in Romans 8:8, “Those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” The powers of darkness intend for all Christians to be misdirected and miss the mark. If you are a devoted and committed Christian, your major task is to wrestle with the forces of darkness. Ephesians 6:12
The spirit of unforgiveness
Unforgiveness creates a steel like bond that keeps us away from each other. Unforgiveness is the single most popular poison that the enemy uses against God’s people, and it is one of the deadliest poisons a person can take spiritually. This spirit disconnects you from people and from God.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is giving up my right to revenge. It is also means excusing the penalty for an offence, offering pardon and renouncing anger and resentment. Finally, forgiveness should be a lifestyle and not just a choice. God gave all of us the power to choose and to live in His presence and according to His will.
These definitions may look simplistic, but they pack enough power to loosen the stronghold of the spirit of unforgiveness. Forgiveness is obedience to God as depicted in the diagram below. It is understanding the meaning of grace. Forgiving is a way of serving God.
Framework for doing reconciliation and forgiveness
Step1: Recognition and process of restoration
- Become aware of the hurt or offence between you and someone.
- Unresolved anger leads to contempt, and then to bitterness, disconnectedness, hatred, sickness and even murder.
- Jesus is clear in Matthew 5:21-48. He gives you no room for self-pity or self-righteousness, whether you are the sinner or the one sinned against
Step 2: One-on-one confrontation
- Personal reconciliation is where you go alone to disclose your feeling to your fellow brother or sister (Matthew 18).
- Confrontation is never easy either for the one who starts it or the recipient.
- Remember you are confronting the shadow between the two of you, not the person.
- You need to go with the spirit of winning your brother or sister back to a right relationship with you.
Step 3 Release of My Right to Revenge
- First, you must choose to do this, despite your emotions. Embrace the pain and bring it to God.
- Realise that the purpose is for your benefit (health of your relationship with God), not the offender’s.
- Secondly, you choose to pray for offender. Do not take revenge…If your enemy is hungry, feed him (Romans12:19-20)
- Thirdly, repeat step one and two until your heart changes to match God’s heart.
Joseph and his brothers
Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:5
- Context: Joseph had full power and motivation to exact revenge as Ruler.
- Release your desire to revenge first, to restore his vertical relationship with God.
- In God’s sovereignty, he could ask his brothers to deal with their self-guilt and his bitterness.
- After release, reconciliation (which required the brothers’ action) was possible on horizontal axis.
Reconciliation and restoration of relationships
When you have released the spirit of revenge, and reconciled with your brother or sister, then the lost peace between you is restored. Restoration begins to prevent that conflict from recurring. Love takes its toll; unity in Christ comes to action.
Back to where we supposed to be
- When you refuse to revenge, and reconcile with your spouse, then you have peace between you.
- Identify the dysfunction that caused the wound (e.g., personality, situational, etc.).
- Now you are both united in Christ having faced this threat to your unity together.
In Part 3
Forgiveness has principles that must be learnt and practiced. These will be discussed in the last part of the series on forgiveness. Forgiveness and reconciliation will not happen if we apply God’s word inappropriately.